I really don't like shooting events. It has nothing to do with them being a lot of work though. Lord knows I could use the exercise. It's just that it's harder to make a connection with folks when shooting event. That consequently affects the individual shots when you try to single out people at the function. Although the candids are always fun because you can often catch people being themselves when they think no one is really watching.
The exceptions I always make are when I'm shooting an event for friends and/or family. In this instance, doing the one for Grandma's 90th Birthday Celebration was a no-brainer. I always wished I had known now back when I did the one for Popoo's surprise party so he could have had the same quality images. At least I do still have video from that evening and in some ways, that's even better.
At any rate, this event could not have gone off any better. It was not a surprise Grandma made it clear she didn't want that. However, I think she was somewhat surprised at the turnout. And there's no way she knew what kind words everyone would share as they spoke on their amazing memories with her. The smile on her face during all that was priceless.
It was a bittersweet moment for all of us in more ways than one. Grandma was already showing signs of illness that many of us weren't accustomed to seeing. She had always been such a powerful matriarch in both spirit and physical stature that we expected it to last for years to come. We all know that God always has other plans that we may not be aware of though.
Grandma's health would go up and down in the days and weeks following her celebration. She tried to hold on for us as long as she could until it just became too much. I, for one, found myself selfishly wishing she was able to stay with us even longer. However, I certainly didn't want it to be in a condition where it was a struggle to remain here. So her being able to finally be at peace was a greater reward than having more time with her.
At 90-years-young, Grandma had the chance to live a very full life that many folks would be envious of. Not only that, but she was able to experience some of the most pivotal moments in our country's history while she was still old enough to appreciate them. That's why conversations with her were always so enamoring. As much as I will miss those, I will always treasure the knowledge I gained from her during those talks.
See these are the type of connections I look for when shooting events. Of course it helps when they are paying functions, but more than anything, if the memories are special for me too then that's something on which you cannot put a price-tag. I will always look back at these images from Grandma's 90th birthday celebration and remember how special, loved and appreciated we were able to make Grandma feel. She may be gone, but she will be with us forever...